Human Physiology

The Human Physiology Department studies the science of the mechanical, physical and biomedical functions of humans, serving as the foundation of modern medicine. As a discipline, it connects science, medicine, and health, creating a framework for understanding how the human body adapts to stress, physical activity, and disease.

Human Physiology is home to award-winning teaching and research faculty. Our engaging, inclusive, and evidence-based teaching and year-long, cadaver-based anatomy curriculum allows students to work alongside faculty members on cutting-edge science. Contemporary research in human physiology explores new ways to maintain or improve quality of life, development of new medical therapies and interventions, and charting the unanswered questions about how the human body works.


1,071
Undergraduate Majors
30%
First-generation students
1st
Established Department of Human Physiology in the U.S.
$3M
Annual research grants

What can you do with a Human Physiology degree?

A degree in Human Physiology opens many doors for students, providing them with the foundation for  careers in health care, sports and fitness facilities, nursing and residential career outpatient clinics or private practice, federal and state government health, or hospice. Many human physiology graduates elect to earn advanced degrees in allied health professions, including medicine, and physical and occupational therapy.

Steve Laurie at NASA, standing next to space capsule

How Human Physiology Launches Your Career

“The Human Physiology department fostered a rigorous academic training environment, but also placed a strong emphasis on how to be a critical thinker in all aspects of work and life. I now work in the aerospace industry for a federal government contractor, and the training I received in communication, the breadth of exposure to various topic areas, and exposure to non-academic career paths all prepared me for my professional life after leaving Oregon.”

—Steve Laurie, Human Physiology doctoral alumnus ‘12

In The Homestretch: A Heptathlete’s Journey to Medical School

From competing in seven events as as track heptathlete, to conducting research in the lab, Colleen Uzoekwe has her sights set high. 

Our Degree Programs

Our undergraduate students complete preparatory science courses in chemistry, biology, mathematics and physics that prepare them for the upper-level coursework in human anatomy and physiology. Our graduate program is focused on training the next generation of critical thinking scientists who can benefit society by using careful reasoning and scientific principles to solve problems and innovate new areas of scientific application.

Faculty Research

Learn from Experts in the Field

Our faculty are involved in cutting-edge biomedical research that covers the spectrum from bench-top basic science to bedside clinical research and application, to sport and human performance. Our areas of excellence include:

  • The developmental origins of disease related to the impact of maternal diet and health status on the well-being of offspring.
  • Human adaptation to environmental extremes such as high altitude.
  • Use of environmental stressors such as heat stress to induce therapeutic benefits in patient populations.
  • Nutritional interventions to preserve muscle function in patients undergoing orthopedic surgery.
  • Prediction and prevention of overuse injuries arising from participation in sports.
  • Neuromotor strategies for movement and assessment of movement disorders.
  • The effect of age-associated changes in blood vessels on risk of atherosclerosis.
Hands-On Learning

Get Real World Experience

Experiential learning opportunities allow students to apply knowledge learned in human physiology courses and gain critical insights into various career options. All of our faculty work closely with undergraduate students, allowing for rich opportunities for hands-on research experience. We also offer practicum opportunities in healthcare settings. The Human Cadaver Dissection Lab offers the unparalleled opportunity for hands-on exploration of the human form. Advanced undergraduates may also earn the opportunity to participate in the annual dissection course, when donated bodies are prepared for instructional use.

Scholarships & Funding

The Human Physiology department gives out $18,000 annually in awards and scholarships to help fund student education. Explore our available scholarships and funding, including graduate teaching opportunities, below.

Undergraduate Scholarships
Graduate Funding

Academic Support

Our Peer Advisors are majors in Human Physiology who help you navigate course options and direction within the department. We also offer a drop-in study room. Our faculty work closely with the UO Teaching Engagement Program to make our classes engaging, inclusive, and effective.

Undergraduate Advising
Graduate Student Support

Human Physiology News and Events

June 11, 2024
HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY - As a senior human physiology major in the College of Arts and Sciences, Colleen Uzoekwe works in Exercise and Environmental Physiology Labs in the Bowerman Sports Science Center, conducting research on muscle temperature changes with sauna sessions.
May 15, 2024
HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY - While not a miracle cure, there might indeed be some health benefits to the trend of cold plunging, new research from the University of Oregon suggests. A study led by Chris Minson, the Kenneth and Kenda Singer Professor in Human Physiology at the UO.The study was published in the December 2023 edition of the Journal of Thermal Biology.
March 6, 2024
HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY - Working with some of the world’s top marathon runners at Nike, human physiologist Brad Wilkins led the charge to break the 2-hour marathon barrier—an attempt that led to the National Geographic documentary Breaking2. Now head of the new Oregon Performance Research Laboratory, he’s using science to help athletes push past their perceived limitations and achieve new heights.

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The BIG 10+ Academia Career Fair
Oct16
The BIG 10+ Academia Career Fair Oct 16
Bob Bussel Labor History Lecture
Apr24
Bob Bussel Labor History Lecture Apr 24 William W. Knight Law Center

All events »